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People who eat spicy food regularly have a reduced risk of death, say researchers

Eating spicy food more frequently as part of a daily diet is associated with a lower risk of death, new study results suggest.

International researchers, led by a team at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, studied 487,375 people aged between 30 and 79 years. Study participants, who were enrolled between 2004 and 2008 and followed up for around seven years, completed a questionnaire about their general health, physical measurements, and consumption of spicy foods, red meat, vegetables and alcohol.

Eating chillies regularly is linked to a lower risk of death from cancer and diabetes

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The researchers found that those who ate spicy foods one or two days a week had a 10% reduced risk of death compared with those who ate spicy foods less than once a week. Eating spicy foods almost every day was associated with a 14% reduction in risk of death.

The authors said that fresh and dried chilli peppers were the most commonly used spices in those who reported eating spicy foods at least weekly, and that further analysis showed that those who ate fresh chilli tended to have a lower risk of death from cancer, ischaemic heart disease and diabetes.

One possible explanation for this is that fresh chilli is rich in capsaicin, vitamin C and other nutrients. But the authors caution against directly linking these with a lowering of the risk of death.

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